Paying for ideal discretion: a framed field experiment on working time arrangements

The notion of ideal worker necessitates being available at the discretion of the employer in terms of time. By contrast, the ability to set one's own schedule is widely considered a cornerstone of work-life balance and job satisfaction. We provide causal evidence on the pecuniary and social valuation of the discretion to decide about working schedules. We embed our study in the context of gender and compare employee-initiated and employer-initiated request for a change towards more discretion over working hours. We show that employer-initiated availability should be reflected in higher wages, but the premium is small. There appears to be no penalty to employee-initiated request for autonomy to decide about working schedules. While our results lend support to the ideal worker model, they cast doubt on explanations linking  gender wage inequality to labor market flexibility.